Drinking alcohol is often seen as a part of British culture but can pose a threat to health when consumed in quantities which are above the recommended guidelines. Over-indulgence can lead to physical, social and psychological health problems.
Alcohol is a major preventable cause of death and illness in Wales. Around 1,000 deaths are attributable to alcohol per year in Wales. (Source: A profile of Alcohol and Health in Wales - Public Health Wales 2009)
The 10 year Substance Misuse Strategy - Working Together to Reduce Harm launched by the Welsh Assembly Government in 2008 sets out a national agenda to reduce harm caused by alcohol, drugs and other substances. It aims to prevent substance misuse through education, improve services for misusers, support and protect families and to tackle the innapropriate availability of alcohol.
What is being done to minimise the impact of alcohol misuse?
The Service Framework for the Treatment of Alcohol Misuse in Wales is designed to assist in the development of services with guidance on good practice in the context of current evidence and professional opinion. The framework advocates a "stepped care approach" to treatment based on two broad components:
- Provision of brief interventions in the primary care setting for those drinking excessively but not requiring treatment for alcohol dependence
- Provision of more specialist treatment for those with moderate or severe dependence and related problems.
The Public Health Wales Health Information Analysts Team produced the Health Needs Assessment: Substance Misuse document to assist local health partnerships with the 2006 round of health needs assessment in preparation for their Health, Social Care and Well-being (HSCWB) Strategies.
Local HSCWB Stategies are published on the websites of the Local Health Boards (LHBs) and detail how resources will be targeted to address the health needs of the local populations relating to alcohol misuse. Some examples are listed below and you can access others via the LHB link in our Services Directory.
Other Local Health Boards
Specialist community based services are usually provided by NHS bodies in Wales although some are provided by the voluntary sector and local authorities. Precise service models will depend on local arrangements.
DAN - Wales Drug and Alcohol Helpline is a point of contact for anyone in Wales wanting further information or help relating to drugs and or alcohol . The website provides a search for local and national drug and alcohol agencies that will be able to offer advice, counselling and treatment.
Health Challenge Wales focuses on six themes that contribute to ill health. Often this ill health is the result of lifestyle choices and can therefore be prevented if people change their behaviour. Advice on alcohol consumption is included on the website.
What is being done to manage the impact?
Public Health Wales is currently rolling out a programme of Alcohol Brief Advice training for Primary Care staff (November 2010). Alcohol brief advice is described as a short, evidence-based, structured conversation about alcohol consumption with a patient to motivate and support the individual to think about and/or plan a change in their drinking behaviour in order to reduce their consumption.
The first full training course has taken place with attendees made up of General Practitioners, Nurses, Prison staff and Pharmacists. A second training course is planned for early 2011.
Your local public health team will have a strategy that includes activities to address the health specific aspects of alcohol misuse. You can find more information on their web pages.
You can find information on local implementation of services and initiatives on the Health Board websites which you can access via the link below:
You, your child and alcohol
is a report by the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) with recommendations on protecting children and young people from the risks associated with alcohol consumption.
You can download the report from the link below and view a short video by the CMO.
Map of Medicine Healthguides show you the ideal, evidence-based patient journey for common and important conditions. It is a high-level overview aimed at patients. The Map also provides a framework for creating localised pathways using modified or new content specific to a local healthcare community. The NHS Wales view delivers current evidence based clinical knowledge for professionals and requires registration or log-in.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is an independent organisation responsible for providing national guidance on promoting good health and preventing and treating ill health.
NHS Evidence provides free access to clinical and non-clinical information - local, regional, national and international. Information includes evidence, guidance and Government policy. It is primarily aimed at professionals and practitioners working in health and social care.
Alcohol and Schools Intervention. Guidance for use in primary and secondary schools on sensible alcohol consumption. (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence 2006) Provides Guidance on school based interventions designed to reduce alcohol use by young people under the age of 18.
Alcohol and health in Wales. A major public health issue. (NPHS, Cardiff University 2006)
Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) survey: tobacco smoking, cannabis use and alcohol use (Welsh Assembly Governement 2004) The report compares Wales with selected HBSC countries, with a focus on tobacco smoking, cannabis use and alcohol use.
Substance misuse in Wales, 2008-09. (Welsh Assembly Government 2009)
A Profile of alcohol and health in Wales produced by Public Health Wales contains information taken from several data sources and includes statistics on subjects including underage drinking, alcohol-related deaths, drinking during pregnancy, binge drinking and hospital admissions related to alcohol.
The Public Health Wales Observatory page below includes links to key policy documents detailing targets, data sources including European statistics and reviews of evidence.
The Welsh National Database for Substance Misuse provides data on people undergoing treatment for a substance misuse problem. The information covers services provided by the majority of organisations that are funded by the Welsh Assembly Government.
Welsh Assembly Government reports include statistics from the Welsh National Database for Substance Misuse and additional substance misuse related information available from routinely published sources in Wales.
Health Maps Wales is an interactive tool that can be used to explore a variety of health indicators grouped under broad categories including acohol-related mortality and hospital admissions.